by maipham

July 2, 2020

My son Ethan was a slow walker. He didn’t walk safely and steadily all by himself when he was 1 year old. We still chased after him, grabbing his collar and hands to help him walk.

But he crawled everywhere. His favorite position is under the TV counter. Sometimes I looked at him and I thought he was just like a little cat. You know, cats always love crawling in and staying inside small boxes. My son also loved to find his own shelter. Well, now I am wandering.

When it’s around his first birthday, a baby is learning new skills at the record speed. I don’t want to create bad habits or addiction for my son. So instead of giving him an Ipad or a phone to watch Cocomelon all day, we tried to introduce some developmental games to him. We still make him sit on his chair and watch TV when we need to do something else, but we always try to minimize screening time.

If you are also out of ideas of what toys to buy for your little one, or what games to play with him, here is the monster list of 75 developmental games for 1 year old babies, both indoor and outdoor so that you won’t run out of ideas to entertain your little one.

Know that this is a huge list of developmental games for 1 year old babies, so you might not read all of it at once. Bookmark and save the list so that you can come back and check it out later when you need some suggestions.

Ready?

Let’s dive in.

Indoor and outdoor developmental games for 1 year old babies.

developmental games for 1 year old

Discovery box

Put small toys inside a box or container and let your baby explore. You can place a lid on the box or container if need be.

Skills learned: Motor skills and exploring the environment.

Hide and seek the toys

Babies at this age can start locating the things that they are interested in. Get a toy and show it to him, then hide it somewhere near (let him see where you hide it) and ask him to find it. He will be confused for the first few times but will quickly grasp the rule.

Skills learned: problem solving skill and logical thinking.

Flashcards

You can never teach your baby too soon. Using flashcards is a great way to teach your little one about the world he is in.

Make sure you get some standard flashcards so that your baby will get the best out of it.

Skills learned: exploring the environment, getting to know different things and language skill.

Reading

I started reading for my son Ethan when he was 1 month old. Of course for the first few months, he only stared at the books, or just looked around and gave me no interest, reaction or interaction. I kept going. Everyday.

I myself consider reading as one of the most powerful developmental games for 1 year old toddler, as at this time they learn everything so quickly and can easily form good habits.

Now he is 17 months old. And is a bookworm. He reads more than 10 books a day. And several times for each book. 

Skills learned: reading, logical thinking, language.

Make music

You can make music with anything. Some empty bottles work well. A rattle is fine too. Even some squeaky ducks can do the job. Show your baby how to make noise, or music with things around the house.

Skills learned:  music, listening.

Play house

Don’t let all the cardboard go wasted. Be a little handy and create some crafts for your little one. A play house is a great gift for any baby. Your baby will love crawling in and out the playhouse and play hide and seek there.

Sticky floor

Let your little treasure barefooted. Stick some double-sided tape to the floor and let him walk on it. He will get confused, curious with the floor and try to get his feet out of it.

Skills learned: logical thinking, motor and coordination skills.

Peekaboo

When your baby is 1 year old, it is the perfect time to play peekaboo. He will learn how other people’s faces disappear and appear again. This will help with your baby’s separation anxiety.

Sing and call out names of things

Sing some developmental songs for him and remember to point to relevant things and let him know what they are. Great songs to sing are: Head, shoulders. Knees and toes; once I caught a fish a live, etc.

Count fingers and toes

Sing the counting song or just simply count your little one’s fingers and toes with him. He will learn not only numbers, but also names of his body parts.

Crawl through tunnels

If you are crafty or handy, you might as well make a tunnel out of cardboard for your baby. Or if you are not so much (like me), you can create a tunnel with a blanket (of course with you in it) and let your baby crawl through the tunnels. He will learn how the external environment changes when he goes in and out the tunnel.

Skills learned: exploring the world and motor skills.

Freeze dance

Don’t expect your baby to be able to do the freeze dance quickly but this is the greatest time to introduce it to him. Start by singing a song he likes and dance along. Then during the song, shout “Freeze” out loud and freeze your body. Your little one will be surprised at first but quickly he will get the rule.

Play with balls

Balls are some best toys in teaching your baby many coordination skills. You can simply give him the balls, he will throw them away and then crawl after them. Or when you have some energy to take it up a notch, try throwing the ball to him and teach him how to throw it back.

Toilet paper roll chute

Tape paper towel roll cores to the wall. Then show your baby how to put a cotton ball in it and watch it come out from the other end.

This is a very easy way to teach your little one not only some skills but also set examples for him that you are environmental-friendly and you are willing to create something from scratch, with things that you are having, without waiting. This is such an important message for any developmental games for 1 year old.

Sensory bottles

Add a few drops of food coloring to water bottles along with glitter and knickknacks like beads. Tape on the top and watch as your little one is amazed by tipping the bottle around.

Put it inside the box

Get a small box or cup with a lid and make a slit on it. Then give your baby some plastic or paper coins to slide inside the box. Make sure you are always next to him to prevent any risks that might occur.

Homemade rattle

An empty bottle with a small ball, coin or some beans inside is enough to create a homemade rattle.

Play with balloons

Inflate some balloons and tie the end with threads. Then tie the threads to the top of the bedroom door to let the balloons hang. Your little one will love hitting and trying to get those balloons.

Bath time with sponge

Get some sponge and bring it to the bathtub with your little one. Show him how the sponge absorbs water and sinks, then take it out of the tub and squeeze the water out.

Shapes game

Babies at this age can tell the different shapes. Help your baby develop this skill by buying a shape puzzle toy or other shape boxes. He won’t be able to get the right puzzle but soon enough will.

Shapes game is one of the most educational developmental games for 1 year old kid.

Hide and seek

This is the great game to play with your little one. He will learn to explore around the house to find you, and it also helps with his separation anxiety.

My son Ethan loves this. Now we are playing this in bed too, but it's my turn to find him, who is actually hiding behind my back while holding my neck. It's just too cute.

Put dirty clothes to the laundry basket

You can introduce some chores to your baby at this time. Start by putting his own dirty clothes to the laundry basket.

I started by grabbing Ethan’s hand, helping him to bend over and pick up the clothes, then walk with him to the laundry basket. Of course the entire time I had to hold the clothes myself, but I also held his hand with the same hand, making sure he also touched the clothes too. I also always complimented him after we successfully put the dirty clothes away.

Bring me the…

You can teach your baby names of things around the house. Start with one thing, then two. Show him the object, name it and then put it near him. Then say “bring me the…”. If he doesn’t know how to do it, grab his hand to take the object and compliment him.

Close the door

Be extra careful with all the doors around the house. As now babies will start to try to open and close the door, just to see how things work. But this also increases the risk of smashed fingers.  You can reduce this risk with something like finger pinch guards.

Toy offering

Offer toys for the baby to hold while standing so they have to practice balancing without using their hands. Helps baby with balance and coordination.

Finger painting

Don’t forget to introduce your little one to the art world early. Some non-toxic or homemade watercolor and s piece of paper is enough. The feeling of the cool paint on their hands and feet is a fun new sensation for toddlers.

Painting with water

A smart way to reduce cleaning work is to let your little one paint with water. Offer him a wet brush or a wet sponge to paint some colored construction papers. When the brush or sponge gets dry, simply dip into water again.

Homemade playdough

Playdough is always fun to play with. But as toddlers at this age still love to explore the world with their tongues, they might as well try to take a bite from the playdough.

A non-toxic playdough is quite expensive, but there is no reason you cannot create playdough yourself. Some flour, cream of tartar, salt, food coloring and water will do the work.

Make your own toy balls

Anything can be used to make toy balls. Especially if you have some colored paper around the house. Allow your baby to join the process.

Toilet paper roll binocular

Tape 2 toilet paper rolls together and walla! You got yourself a homemade binocular.

Play with the spoon

Your little one might try to eat independently now. Or if you started BLW early, your baby is likely to know how to eat with his fingers. Now it’s time to let him play with the spoon.

Hold his hand and show him how to use the spoon to get food several times, then it’s his turn to play however he wants. He might put food into his face, hair and nose. Or the spoon can end up on the floor right away. But he will get the hang of it soon.

Magnetic

Get a transparent bottle and place some iron items in it. Then use a magnetic to move those items around and let your baby enjoy the excitement!

Edible slime

Everyone loves slime. I mean, what’s not to like? It’s fun, it’s weird and it’s satisfying.

However, they are quite toxic to the skin. And for babies, they can be very dangerous if your baby takes a bite of it.

Instead of never introducing it to your baby, why not make some edible slime and give it to him. There are many things you can use to make edible slime. Try milk, cornstarch and food coloring, or some melt marshmallow will do too.

Take me out of the board

Use tape to tape small toys onto the board and let your baby rescue them. If you don’t have any board, your wall, or a door works just fine.

You might think this is a boring game, but it’s quite a lot for your little precious thing, as he has to reach the toys and pull the tape out to rescue them. It encourages your baby's problem solving skill.

Role play with toys

Your baby can be quite attached to some toys. He might have some favorites.

Use those favorite toys to role play with your baby. Make conversations and interactions with him. This will boost your baby’s imagination ability and creativity.

Role play with gloves and socks

Socks and gloves can be quick and great toys. All you need to do is to put your fingers inside the gloves and socks, then the stage is yours. You can also teach your baby to play along.

Make and play with edible paint

There are some non-toxic paints out there but they are quite pricey. How about making your own paint that is safe and even edible?

You can use some strong colored fruits and veggies to create paint. But it will be fun and you don’t have to worry about your little treasure putting dirty fingers inside his mouth.

Some ideas you can think of: red color from beet root or raspberry, blue color from blueberry, yellow from oranges or pineapple, pink from dragon fruit, etc. Or you can just put a few drops of food coloring into water. Remember to add some corn starch into the mix to make it heavier.

Drop it inside the box

Prepare a box or a cup with a lid. Show your baby how you pick small items and drop them into the box. Let your baby hear the sound when they drop and encourage him to give it a try. This helps to boost their listening and problem-solving skills.

Sensory bottle

You can get all creative with an empty bottle. Put a little rice or beans into it, great, you have a homemade rattle. But if you get a little more creative, add some glitter and food coloring and edible oil into the bottle, your little one will watch it with amazement.

Pretend animal

Your baby might not know many animals yet. But you can repeat and repeat a few animal sounds for him. Tell him names of the animal, show him the picture or flashcard with that animal if possible and teach him its sound.

This will introduce your baby to the external environment.

Push-pull toys

Your baby will learn how to use his hand and fingers to push and pull the toys to direct them to his preferred direction. You can try this by sitting in front of your baby, push a toy car toward him and teach him how to push it back to you.

Open and close the drawer

Babies at this age love to explore everything. They go from cabinet to cabinet and drawer to drawer. Instead of running after him to pull him away from dangerous drawers and cabinets, you can prepare a drawer just for him that is well within his reach. Remember to empty the drawer before you allow him to play with it. Show him how to open and close it.

Surprise drawer

Put some toys inside the drawer and let him explore it. You can guide him how to put more toys in it. Change the toys often so that he will become curious every time he sees the drawer.

Which hand is it

When your baby is around 1 year old, he can locate an item and try to find it if you hide it away. Sit in front of your baby, grab a small toy and show him you have the toy inside your hands.

Then start swinging or rolling your hands, while singing “left and right, where is the toy?”. Then show him both closed hands and let him pick one. Always praise him during the game.

Sing and show phonics

Sing the phonics song while showing him the letters. Ideally, you can get a set of wooden or plastic phonics, or an ABC foam mat and point or raise the letter for him to see.

This will introduce your little one with some early education sessions.

Ball bathtub

Fill up the bathtub with some small plastic balls. Your little one will love to move around and kick and throw the balls all over.

Water pouring

You can play this game with your baby when he is in the bathtub, or swimming pool, or in a hot day. Give him a small bucket and teach him how to use the bucket to get water and pour it out. 

Shower toys

Babies will tend to love shower time now. They can even cry when you take them out of the shower. Give them some more play time in the bathtub. Bring in some plastic toys for him to play with. You can play diving, hide and seek in the water with those toys.

When your baby gets a little older, games in the bathtub can help a great deal in introducing your baby to early swimming lessons.

Velcro is fun

Give your baby a Velcro and show him how it works. Ideally, tape one side of the Velcro into a board and give him the other side to stick to and pull from it. Help your baby learn new things in the house.

Throw it back to me

Stay a little far away from your baby and throw a small ball near him. Encourage him to pick it up and throw back to you. This helps to promote babies’ motor skill, coordination skill and balancing skill.

Toy parade

Tie a toy to a string and encourage the baby to pull it behind them while walking. Play follow the leader and have the baby follow you around the house while pulling the toy and switch to let the baby take the lead.

Tower building

Use stackable blocks while playing with the baby. See how high the tower will go! They might laugh when it all comes crashing down. Helps baby practice developing motor skills.

Mountain climbing

Babies at this age love playing with large objects. Place some pillows on the floor and help the baby crawl over them. Make sure to keep baby safe and watch them closely. Helps baby practice crawling to learn how to get from one place to another.

Tidy up the house

One of the developmental games for 1 year old toddler that actually helps adults a lot is the "tidy up the house" game.

Ask baby to pick up scattered toys and bring them over to you. Baby will like figuring out how to bend and pick up the toys. Helps baby build strong leg muscles and begin learning how to complete simple tasks with multiple steps. You can start introducing chores to your baby too.

Squeaky toys

Help baby squeeze a squeaky toy to hear the sound. Next, cover it with a blanket and squeak it again. See how they react to hearing the sound this time and help them pull off the blanket. Helps baby exercise their memory and ability to locate sounds.

Bubble time

Blow bubbles for baby. Watch them soar through the sky and let baby pop them when they land. Helps baby learn cause and effect by watching bubbles pop when they land on other objects and people.

Reaching game

Show your baby his favorite toy and then put it away a little high for him. He will try to reach to get it. This helps baby develop his motor and coordination skill.

Clapping

Clap with excitement after baby does something good. Encourage them to clap with you. Helps baby learn how to use movements to express themselves.

I am a believer of positive thinking and positivity can greatly affect our kids. So I'm not cheap on compliment and excitement. I make sure my son will get plenty of it. It helps to build up his confidence and sense of humor too. I consider this not only one of the most powerful developmental games for 1 year old, but also the most educational one, as I am teaching my son to appreciate himself.

Take the led

Take your baby outside and let him take the lead where to go. Make sure you are close to him all the time to prevent hurting.

Cereal pick up

Get your baby used to pick up food with his fingers. If you don’t want to clean the mess, start out with dry food like cereal or baby snack.

Foot pain

Did you know kids can paint with their feet too? Let them step in brightly colored paint and use their feet to create a masterpiece. This is best done outside, but if it’s a rainy day, you can put some plastic down on the floor for an easy cleanup.

Helps with baby's sensory development.

Balloon let go

Balloons are fun when they’re inflated, but they’re even more fun when you let them fly around the room. Instead of tying the end of the balloon, let it go and see it whoosh around the room. Let your toddler go get it!

Helps baby with motor skills, visual skills, and sensory processing.

Whipped cream painting

Spray a little whipped cream on a highchair tray or table and let your little one paint pictures in it.

Touch and feel board

One of the developmental games for 1 year old to teach them the look and feel of different things is the "touch and feel" thing.

Cover a poster board with different types of things that baby can touch, such as fake fur, sandpaper, bubble wrap and aluminum foil.

Spinning game

Babies love flipping and spinning anything they can. Give him a small box, a bottle and show him how to spin it around.

Wipe dispenser sensory box

Save your empty wipe dispensers to fill with fabric scraps. You little one will love pulling the scraps out and putting them back in. It's like a mini laundry basket for them!

Stick it

Using labeling “dot" stickers, let baby create a masterpiece by sticking stickers to a blank piece of paper. They will love figuring out how the stickers work.

Ring the bell

Give your little one a bell for him to ring and learn where the sound comes from. This helps babies to develop listening and coordination skills.

Water fountain

Play this during your baby’s shower time. Leave the shower head on and let the water shoot straight up, creating a mini water fountain.

Crayons and paper

Your baby can start using crayons after he is 1 year old. Make sure you use some non-toxic and big crayons to avoid choking hazard.

To minimize the mess, cover a big floor area with paper so he can sit on it while play with it.

You can even make your own crayon from food coloring and bee wax. If this is your choice, make the crayon as big as your big thumb to prevent any choking risks.

Spaghetti time

Everybody likes spaghetti, especially when you can play with it. Boil some spaghetti into soft, rinse it off with water to avoid stickiness and give it to your baby. He can learn how to pick up a long spaghetti and swing it around.

Mirror play

Babies at this age like to see their reflection in the mirror. Show him the mirror, make funny faces on the mirror and see how he will react. He will look back and forth from the mirror to your face and laugh like crazy.

I read the book regarding mirror work of Louise Hay, on how to use the mirror to reflect ourselves and do affirmations, I believe this mirror playing game is a great developmental games for 1 year old babies, as you can introduce them to positivity at such a young age.

Ride on

Grab a toy that your toddler can sit on top of as you bring them around your house or on the sidewalk. Your toddler has to stay on by holding a handle and using their legs.

Helps babies learn to use their eyes and hands together and builds gross motor skills.

What food inside the egg?

Filling plastic eggs with different food items can be lots of fun for kids this age. Fill the eggs with bite-sized snacks toddlers can eat. They'll love opening the eggs and eating tasty snacks at the same time.

Helps build baby's fine motor skills by using their fingers to open and close small objects.

Drum time

Place a toy drum (or an upturned ice cream container) in front of you and baby. Use your hands or wooden spoons as drumsticks to show baby different sounds they can make.

Helps baby develop fine motor skills, listening skills, and understanding of cause and effect and rhythm.

Final thought

If you can make it all the way down here, thanks for reading. After all, this is a monster post with more than 70 developmental games for 1 year old babies. It’s hard to remember and play it all to your baby at once.

Don’t worry. The resource is always here for you. Bookmark this page, or simply print it out and come back to check when you are out of ideas.

About the author 

Mai Pham

Mai Pham discovered her passion for writing a few years ago and she never stop thinking about it ever since. She finally took the leap and created Live a Worthy Life to brag about her smart ass (mainly just for fun). Enjoyed the fun writing brings, now with her new interest in everything-baby-related, she created Mommy Instinct, to tell mamas that it's ok that they mess up, that they don't know what the hell they are doing, and that it's okay to sit back and relax for a while.

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